Okay, that was a misleading headline.
My only evidence: Several people emailed me in dismay over a shockingly sloppy and misleading story in the Chronicle of Philanthropy that might have given you the impression that you’d better stop using matching gifts because donors no longer believe in them: As More Charities Promote Matching Gifts, Donors Grow Skeptical of Campaign Pleas (subscription required).
You’d think with a headline like that, there would be some evidence of donor skepticism.
All they have is one consultant vaguely citing focus group findings: “…we’ve heard a lot of folks question the legitimacy of matches.”
There’s more evidence supporting a coming Mayan Apocalypse than there is for a groundswell of donor skepticism toward matching gifts. That is to say, there’s no evidence of it.
Focus group research is not behavioral research. Frequently, focus group findings run exactly opposite what people actually do. Any time things said in focus groups are trotted out as evidence of what’s happening in fundraising, you should drown out the nonsense with loud laughter. It’s beyond me why people keep using focus groups that way and citing their findings as if they are truth you can take to the bank.
Matching gifts work. They really, really work almost all the time. They aren’t magic, and I’ve seen a few cases where a matching grant offer didn’t do any better than a non-match offer. But that’s by far the exception. And I’ve never seen a match do worse.
You can hardly go wrong by giving your donors the opportunity to leverage the impact of their giving. Matching gifts are just one of a diverse class of leverage offers. The more of them you have, the more funds you’ll raise.
You probably shouldn’t be taking fundraising advice from the Chronicle. Not when it runs stories this poorly sourced and far removed from reality.